Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Habrá Sangre: LLSF Locker Room Part 1

To call Zapato De Muerte a rudo is a disgrace to other rudos. He is a villain, a black hearted scoundrel who cares only for two things: The Big Gold Belt and El Grande's Mask. So much so, he wears a large orthopedic boot, that becomes weighted when he stomps on the ring apron; a prelude to the vicious kick to follow.  He managed to land the blow solidly on El Grande's jaw in their legendary hair vs. mask, but El Grande's honor was saved by El Mini Grande who sacrificed his own identity & honor.  Since then Zapato De Muerte has continued to pursue the World Championship without much concern for his old, wheelchair bound foe.  The crowd has begun to get behind him since the champion, Carmelita, has turned her back on them.
Finishing Move: La Huella De Muerte (roundhouse kick with a loaded boot)
Aspects: Cheats to Win, Wears a Cursed Boot, Over With the Crowd

LLSF's perpetual number one contender, El Grande is hero to everyone in Mexico; men want to be him, women want to be with him, and children want to grow up big and strong just like him.  Too bad it's a lie, El Grande isn't from the small town of San Pedro De Los Saguaros.  Actually a really tanned guy from Colorado, only El Mini Grande knows his secret.  Distancing himself from his mini to preserve his reputation, he may have sowed the seeds for his own downfall.
Finishing Move: El Tierramoto (high angle senton bomb)
Aspects: Living Legend, For Love of His Daughter, Actually a Gringo Dog

Terror of the mid-card, El Ciclope is an established threat looking to ascend to the top of the card.  Infatuated with Tornado Rosado, he sees a romantic relationship with her as his ticket to the top.  If that doesn't work they could always feud after he's done demolishing her tag team partner, Tobillo Largo.
Finishing Move: Del Corazon Del Infierno (Inverted surfboard while sitting on the opponent's neck)
Aspects: Slave to Ambition, Never Give In, Going Up a Gear

 Lucha Libre Sin Frontera's current World Champion, the exotica Carmelita "La Jugosa" may divide the public in the street but captures their hearts in the tent.  Initially part of the promotion's freak show, El Mini Grande is like a father to her and now follows his rough path.  Now rudo, she finds her previous friendships and relationships strained and has hired a manager El Hombre Sin Ojos to act as her liaison.
Finishing Move: Esclavo De Deseo (kiss into a modified gogoplata)
Aspects: Holds the Big Gold Belt, Weaponized Gay Panic, Recent Heel Turn

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Inspiracion: Fragged Empire - Moving Pictures

More Fragged Empire brain fodder, this time TV series and film for feeding my muse.  My focus tends to be who and why rather than where and how, so expect these to be on the soft sci-fi  to space opera side of the spectrum. My books finally came in from the Kickstarter and they are beautiful.  Wade Dyer definitely knocked the design and presentation out of the park.

Dark Matter, 1 season. On Netflix. Six unnamed troubleshooters come out of stasis in response to a shipwide alert. Trouble is 5 of them are amnesiacs, the 6th is a repository for all their conflicting memories. Hijinks ensue as they suss out who they were, where they were going, and what they were going to do. Outside of a general job per week structure, the metaplot dwells on identity and memory's role in determining self.

Farscape, 4 seasons. On Netflix. Astronaut John Crichton is launched to the weirder side of the universe after a test launch off his experimental propulsion system. Now he's trying to get home abd avoid capture by the space fascists know as the Peacekeepers. The spaceship is alive, & there's a ton of interesting drugs/biotech present in the show. Creature designs are also fantastic, this was Star Trek: Voyager done better by Henson.  The show got cancelled so it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. I wonder what other great Australian television we're missing out on in the U.S.A.

The Expanse, currently airing. On Syfy.com.  Based on the James S.A. Corey novels of the same name, this one is very hard sci-fi.  Confined to our solar system, tensions escalate between the United Earth Government and the Democratic Republic of Mars while both polities keeps a collective boot on the throat of the Asteroid Belt, the source of all raw materials that feed the respective war machines. 
Firefly + Serenity 1 season & a film. On Netflix. The little engine that couldn't, this series casts a long shadow. Nothing else encapsulates the synthesis of space western quite like it except maybe Cowboy Bebop. Anything else I have to say about this has been said more eloquently by someone else. 

Cowboy Bebop, 1 season & a film. The other fantastic space western, nearly every episode is strong.  Following a crew of perpetually broke bounty hunters, chasing the next big score or trying to cleanse the sins of the past. Sometimes both.  Ship design, characterization, and world building details all combine to make this show feel lived in and real in a way few others do.

Other influences: Mass Effect 1-3, Dead Space 1-2, Lone Wolf & Cub, Europa Report, Total Recall, Pandorum, Pitch Black, Ghost in the Shell, The Quantum Thief,  & Paprika

Did I miss anything?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Inspiracion: Fragged Empire edition - Comics

My books are due for delivery this afternoon from the Fragged Empire Kickstarter, and to say I'm excited is an understatement.  Here's the elevator pitch: Farscape & Firefly's love child is the stage for Milton's Paradise Lost In Spaaaace, but this time Lucifer comes back and wages an apocalyptic war on the Gnostic custodians. After the last Archon falls, the Great Rebel departs for cosmos unknown leaving behind its genetically honed warhost of Nephilim to their own devices. Two hundred or so years later, the various species are jockeying for position and forging a future among the haunted stars.
I've been watching and reading a lot of sci-fi/space opera stuff in anticipation:

Descender, written by Jeff Lemire and drawn by Dustin Nguyen. Colossal robots known as "Harvesters" forcibly downsize galactic civilization, sparking a pogrom of synthetic life. A companion android, who may be the answer to big mysteries, reactivates on the mining colony turned mass grave that was once his home. Drama and suspense ensues as Tim-21 is pursued by specialized bounty hunters and various galactic polities.

Prophet, written by Brandon Graham and drawn by a rotating stable of artists.  In the far flung future, Earth is a squatters paradise for a myriad of alien species as the human race has long since faded into obscurity.  A contingency algorithm awakens John Prophet from stasis, setting him on a quest to revive the comatose Earth Empire from hidden enclaves and assert Humanity's dominance over the cosmos.  It's all very Jack Kirby + Conan + Metal Hurlant, lots of big ideas flung at the wall and stuck to each other, conceptually very dense.
Guardians of the Galaxy, written by Dan Abnett and drawn by Danny Lanning.  Undermanned, under powered, but with plenty of piss & vinegar, this underdog iteration of the Guardians are out to stymie existential threats.  Launched after the back to back Annihilation crossovers, the team includes stalwarts such as Rocket Raccoon, Starlord, Groot, Gamora and Drax as well as Marvel Cosmic deep cuts such as Quasar, Mantis, Adam Warlock and Moondragon.  This run was the basis for the 2014 film, and its definitely one of my favorites.

ODY-C, written by Matt Fraction and drawn by Christian Ward.  It's Homer's Illiad on a galactic scale, the gods are still assholes but the Achean & Trojan heroes are all women.  There are three separate plots following Odysseus, Agememnon, and Menelaus on their separate treks across wine dark space.  The first volume is solid re-skin of the core text, the second volume is where things get really weird.

Moving Pictures next.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Play Report: The Termites of God

I ran a playtest of Habrá Sangre a weekend or so ago,  here were the characters:

El Mini Grande - The leader of Lucha Libre Sin Fronteras' mini locker room and one of the head trainers, he was once the compatriot of El Grande - the promotion's perennial champion.   Having sacrificed his mask to save El Grande's martial pride, he now feels betrayed and gone rudo y yanqui in retaliation.  No matter where the LLSF pitches its tent, El Mini Grande has a malicious legion of black hearted little people at his beck and call.

Tornado Rosado -"Rose Tornado"- El Grande's daughter and bearer of his legacy, Tornado wishes to reunite her father and El Mini Grande.  Driven by a strong sense of justice, Tornado Rosado is a role model to her Tornado Scouts and wears the Mask of the South Wind.

Tobillo Largo -"Long Ankle"- A relative newcomer,  she earned her ring name after she gained the upper hand in her debut match with El Diablo Abismo and retired him after he refused to submit to her ankle lock.  Under the mask she is a medical doctor raising money to keep the doors of her free clinic open. Her iron grip is not something to be trifled with.

The Game:
 Bright carnival tents are pitched outside Monterrey, a city mid transformation m mingling its colonial Spanish roots with an industrial future. La Hora Cero is days away and LLSF' s future lies after. The luchadors venture into the city to drum up excitement for the upcoming spectacle: Tornado Rosado signs autographs & works community outreach, Tobillo Largo goes to a farmer's market, & El Mini Grande courts turistas.
Having worked up an acceptable crowd a preliminary house show commences,  Tobillo & Tornado wrestle the Mad Monk & the Executioner, managed by El Mini Grande. Action is fast & mean, advantages are created and Momentum shifted between the two teams, culminating in Tornado nearly getting the pin on an isolated Mad Monk. Before the ref's hand can hit the mat a third time El Mini Grande summons his Legion De Minis.
Small hands and compact shadows rise and extrude from beneath seats and in the aisles. Chuds are seen among the more usual minis, the crowd freaks out and vacates the tent in droves. The local underdwellers are spotted leaving the tent bearing Remi Alonzo, the late owner's youngest daughter.
Appealing to their shared past and the great man he was, Tornado convinces Mini Grande to accompany her & Tobillo into Monterrey's vicious inframundo. Descending through the tunnels the intrepid trio grapple with a giant octopus, uncover the Wounded King's last resting place,  recieve warnings of las Termitas De Dios (Termites of God) and their monstrous Worm Queen, defeat a Jaguar Eidolón, & Tobillo y Tornado get captured.

Entering the Inner Sanctum, El Mini Grande's flashlight reveals a great Aztec temple in relief, steps leading downward into a terraced abyss. At the very bottom he spots the luchadoras tied next to a panicked Remi alongside a yawning pit.  Sneaking past the Termitas swarming the inverted pyramid, Mini Grande takes cover behind a sarcophagus occupying the space and shape of an Aztec chacmool.  Spying a short figure wearing an elaborate buzzard headdress looming over and laying filth streaked hands upon Remi while whispering abominable futures for her skin.  Mini Grande scoops up a discarded obsidian knife and sidles up behind him.  Whirling the figure around, he plunges the knife into the carrion priest's belly and stares into the face of his greatest student, El Zapatito De Muerte.
Fueled by Zapatito's fading life, the knife sawed open his rib cage of its own accord and flicked his still beating heart into the gaping hollow.  The floor began to shake, acting quickly Tornado shredded the net of hair and bones restraining her and Tobillo.  Newly freed, Tobillo peeled the manacles binding Remi so she could make good her escape.  The floor surged upward as a mighty blow struck it from below and brincks nad stones started to fall inward revealing the Termitas' brood mother: the Worm Queen - a foul mix of termite queen, sea worm, and Sofia Vergara.

Filled with revulsion and righteous anger the luchadors struck at the abomination by sundering the key load bearing pillars.  As the ceiling came down, the Worm Queen tried her hardest to draw the intrepid heroes to their doom but they escaped by the skin if their teeth.  Amidst the Queen's annelid death throes the characters saw Zapatito's corpse drawn under the sarcophagus' lid....

Reflection: Forcing the participants to gain momentum before they can deal stress fixed one of my biggest issues with green Fate players - Gain Advantage is the best action for the opening exchange(s) so we see more temporary Aspects created.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Habrá Sangre - Crunchy Bits

Just a prospective character sheet, put together with pen & paper. Trying for a possible playtest this weekend.  The mask silhouette so you can draw your character's mask.

Gimmick parallels the High Concept Aspect while Nagging Injury is the equivalent of the Flaw Aspect, though explicitly physical in nature it could be a perpetually broken heart.  Melodrama is an Aspect that parallels the Melodramatic Hook in Feng Shui, why did your luchador leave home and take up the fighting carnie lifestyle?  Technico and Rudo are also Aspects with invokes and compels hardwired into genre assumptions.

Technico (translates as "technical one," technicos wear masks, fight crime, help kids with their math homework, and are all around good guys.)
Invoke: +2 or re-roll while performing aerial or submission spots.
Compel:  All luchadores enmascarados hold to a code of honor, sometimes it gets you in trouble.

Rudo (translates as "rough one," rudos have long hair, sometimes wear masks, fight cops, take kids' candy, bite their opponents, and are all around bad guys.)
Invoke: +2 or re-roll while performing brawling or power spots.
Compel: With their long hair and savage ways, luchadores rudos tend to be shortsighted and impulsive.
In place of Skills I want to use Two Column Fate, the Approaches taken from Apocalypse World (Cool, Hard, Hot, Sharp, Weird) are assigned rating of +2, +1, +1, 0, & -1, these all fill in the blank: "How _____________ are you?"  Spots are your luchador's signature moves, and are freeform so you can list "Hurricanrana," "Axe Handle Smash," "Dragon Screw,""Dropkick," and "El Pulpo." Spots are rated the same way as Approaches.  When rolling you add the appropriate Approach to the Spot and roll the dice.

Stunt Enmascarado is a Stunt that is available when you're masked, which can range from bonuses with a particular spot to having the equivalent of the Newsboy Legion backing you up.  If you're a rudo it applies when your hair is down, and you may have to bite someone's face.

The 3 Count is the Stress mechanic, each box is worth one shift of Stress but a Kick Out clears your boxes.  Kick Outs reset at Milestones.

The big difference from previous versions of Fate is how conflicts are handled.  In a contest all contestants have the Attack or Create Advantage actions available (Defend and Overcome seem kind of stagnant in the fluid world of lucha libre.) Choose the bonus from an appropriate Approach and Spot to 4dF, the contestant with the lowest roll describes their spot and continue in ascending order.  The player with the highest roll has momentarily captured the Momentum and is able to inflict Stress on other characters in the conflict.  Even Old Scratch respects the venerable rules of lucha libre and yields when the 3 Count is called. When a luchador chooses to be taken out of the match, it's called "doing the job" and they earn a Fate Point and possibly a sympathy related Aspect if there's a crowd watching.

Habrá Sangre: Who's Who - The Alonso Family & Others

Vincente Alonso inherited the Circo Hermanos Alonso from his father and uncle in the 30's, as the economy struggled the lucha libre side show was the only thing drawing money.  Sensing opportunity, Vincente shuttered most of the Circo's other attractions and focused his energy and money on the squared circle forging a masked empire: Lucha Libre Sin Fronteras.  His original last will and testament split the wrestling promotion among his three children evenly, but he was trying to alter it before his mysterious death.
Aspects: Died Mysteriously, Hunger to Succeed

Serafina Vasquez is Vincente's oldest daughter, she married a former luchador, the rudo known as El Diablo Abisal - real name Sergio Vasquez.  Smart and savvy, she wants to consolidate the promotion under her and will do anything to carry on her father's legacy.
Aspects: Married to the Business, Control Freak

Carlos Alonso is the oldest son but the middle child, his father's favorite. Ashamed of his family's carnival legacy, Carlos has squandered his fair share of the family's money with other failed ventures.  His new ambition is to become a movie mogul and feature his Cuban girlfriend in a slew of films.
Aspects: Ashamed of the Business, Follow the Money

Vincente's youngest daughter, Remi Alonso, is a favorite of the locker room and close friend to many of the luchadores, most of whom view her as a daughter.  Her naive and trusting nature, while endearing, makes her vulnerable to the manipulations of others.
Aspects: Face of Innocence,

Wrestling for years as El Diablo Abisal, Sergio was always the number 2 guy on the card and rarely held the Big Gold Belt. Now that he's married into management he can put himself on the mountaintop.  Sergio fears the company's dissolution if Vincente's will is executed to the letter, if that happens he will have no mountain to stand on.
Aspects: Not Good Enough, Two Torn Calves

Pablo Jimenez has seen better days. He remembers fondly the days of yesteryear, filing for performance permits as the show traveled from state to state.  Before Vincente had his second heart attack, before his old friend started consulting the side show fortunetellers and mystics they once scoffed at.  During the week leading up to his death, Pablo's best friend was no more. Demoniac and crazed, he demanded Pablo alter the will and require bizarre burial rites but Pablo didn't finish transcribing his wishes.  And now he fears what his negligence may cause.
Aspects: Too Little Butter Scraped Over Too Much Bread, Steel Trap Mind

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Habrá Sangre

The year is 1952, disputed king of lucha libre, Vincente Alonso, has died a few short days before the biggest show of the year: La Hora Cero.  The promotion's lawyer, Pablo Jimenez, has unearthed his last will and testament dividing the company's assets between Alonso's three children.  In honor of their departed father, the 3 scions will put on one last show to the best of their ability.  But the locker room is plagued with nagging questions:

Which of you luchadores will keep their jobs?

What killed Señor Alonso & why isn't anyone allowed to look at the body?

Which of Vincente Alonso's three children do you back?

Or is it time to hang up your mask and go back to the farm?

Don your tights, tie your boots, and lace up your mask.  You've got scores to settle in the ring and answers to find outside of it.  As the road crew erects El Castillo De La Gloria outside Monterrey, old rituals will be performed and fresh blood spilled - the show must go on.

Inspiraciones: El Santo Vs Las Mujeres Vampiro, Mil Mascaras Vs The Aztec Mummy, El Santo and Blue Demon Jr Vs Los Mostros, Ringside, Blood Red Makes the Dollar Green, Lucha Underground, Las Momias de Guanajuato, King Lear